Interview Magazine

Can Björk act ?

You can be hot in Iceland without the rest of the world knowing about it. But such is not the case with Björk, the songwriting thrush from Reykjavík who founded a punk band called Spit and Snot when she was fifteen, hit it big with the Sugarcubes, and eventually became a global icon. Now, with Lars von Trier’s film Dancer in the dark, winner of the Golden Palm at Cannes, the thirty-four-year-old performer has become an unlikely movie star, walking off with the festival’s Best Actress prize.

Not that the praise for Björk, who also composed most of the music for this film, was unanimous. Time’s Richard Corliss wrote, "She’s a quadruple-threat artiste : can’t act, can’t dance, can’t sing, can’t compose." Even he might admit, however, that the challenge of playing Selma would be enough to throw Meryl Streep. Who’s Selma ? She’s just your ordinary, everyday, going-on-blind Czech immigrant who ends up on death row for a murder she didn’t commit. In the clink, as elsewhere, she escapes grim reality by retreating into fantasies based on classic Hollywood musicals. You simply have to see and hear her singing The Sound of Music’s "These Are a Few of My Favorite Things" in her prison cell to believe it ; the scene, like so many others in this astonishing film, is harrowing, haunting, and more than a bit bizarre.

At a now legendary press conference in Cannes, Björk — who had not seen ego-to-ego with the director — made the startling announcement that Dancer in the Dark would be her acting swan song. Audiences can judge whether she has made the right decision later this month, when the movie opens the New York Film Festival, and then around the world.

Guy Flatley

publié dans Interview Magazine - 01.09.2000

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